Ukraine war: winter exposes the civilian population to new risks

A Ukrainian soldier on the frontline in Donetsk oblast. A Ukrainian soldier on the frontline in Donetsk oblast. Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

2 December 2022

As the conflict continues in Ukraine, the winter season poses additional challenges for the army and the civilian population. 

On the 2nd of December 2022, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) highlighted the current dangerous situation that the citizens in Ukraine have to face due to the winter season. Civilians are more likely to be hurt or killed by landmines and explosive ordnance as winter sets in because these weapons are hidden by snow and ice. Moreover, attacks on infrastructure render people without heat or electricity and more individuals are venturing into potentially dangerous woodlands in search of fuel.

This situation has been verified by the organization itself on the field, and the regional director for Eurasia at the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) Ariane Bauer confirmed that “Mines and unexploded ordnance lurk in farmland and neighborhoods, each holding the potential to destroy lives”. Since the beginning of the conflict, landmines, artillery rounds, grenades, and rockets have spread across more terrain, and many of them fail to detonate, thus posing civilians in great danger. Moreover, large areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions were already highly contaminated with explosive munitions from the conflict of 2014. 

Due to the seriousness of the situation, the ICRC is calling to the parties in conflict to ban the use of explosive weapons. "Mines must not be used, and we appeal to the parties to the conflict to mark and clear the contaminated areas as soon as possible and inform civilians of the dangers."

 

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By Alexia Tenneriello

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